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Pereskia aculeata (Barbados Gooseberry)


Scientific Name

Pereskia aculeata Mill.

Common Names

Barbados Gooseberry, Barbados Shrub, Leaf Cactus, Ora-Pro-Nobis


Cactus lucidus, Cactus pereskia, Pereskia foetens, Pereskia fragrans, Pereskia godseffiana, Pereskia longispina, Pereskia pereskia, Pereskia rubescens, Pereskia undulata

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Pereskioideae
Genus: Pereskia


Pereskia aculeata is a scrambling vine, growing up to 33 feet (10 m) tall in trees, with stems up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) thick. Younger stems have hooked thorns and older stems have clusters of woody spines. The leaves are up to 4 inches (10 cm) long and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) wide, simple, entire and deciduous in the dry season. The flowers are numerous, produced in panicles, strongly scented, white, cream or pinkish and up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. The fruit is a rounded berry, translucent, white to pink, yellow, orange or red and up to 0.8 inch (2 cm) in diameter.


USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

As with many cacti, Pereskias can be almost ignored and still flourish. One of the major advantages that these plants pose as houseplants is their ease, and overwatering or overfeeding them is a bigger danger than neglecting them because it can damage their roots. If you repot them, remember to leave them alone for a brief period so as to avoid overstressing them and make sure to keep an eye out for common houseplant pests. Many of these cacti can't really be grown as houseplants anyway due to their shrubby growth habit and others are very rare, but when you do find out Pereskias can be good in cultivation.

They like dry conditions and don't need to be repotted often, but still it is a good idea to refresh their soil by repotting occasionally. Be careful when repotting any cactus to not get hurt by their sharp spines and lift the plant from its mix and replace in a new container before backfilling with soil. Do not water for a few weeks after repotting.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Pereskia.


Pereskia aculeata is native to tropical America.


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